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Is Kikori “Whiskey” a Whiskey if It Comes From Rice?

KikoriA whiskey is a whiskey is a whiskey…even if it is made from rice? I suppose that depends on how you define whiskey. What some call “rice whiskey” can actually be aged shochu, as Axis of Whisky recently pointed out in their review of Kikori Whiskey, the focus of this story. However you think of it, know as you read on those behind Kikori are marketing this spirit as a whiskey first and foremost.

Kikori Whiskey, which was launched in Southern California a few months back, is the idea of one Ann Soh Woods, co-founder of Soh Spirits. The spirit starts as rice sourced from a Japanese island that’s then distilled using “pure mountain water.” It is aged for three to ten years in a mix of French and American oak and sherry casks before being blended and bottled at a low 41% ABV.

Further information on Kikori found on some retailer websites indicates this spirit has been distilled on a stainless steel still through a single distillation process using polished rice as the grain. The distillate is then chill filtered, and no artificial colors are added to the final product.

Kikori is said to be best enjoyed in the usual ways, and it prices for around $40 a bottle. Official limited tasting notes are below, and I’ll go ahead and qualify it as a world whiskey on our site. Do you think Kikori is really a whiskey? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

It’s beautifully golden in color, with a floral and fragrant aroma along with notes of caramel, tree fruits and vanilla. On the palate, you taste notes of melon and toasted almonds with a faint layer of tart apple, balanced with an oak and sherry flavor and a finish that is both clean and bright.

About the author

Nino Marchetti

As the founder of The Whiskey Wash, I'm crazy about whiskey, I can tell you, and I aim to share this passion with you through this site. As for my professional background, I’m a writer and journalist by trade and an Internet dot-com veteran prior to that. My most recent venture prior to this was as the founder and editor-in-chief of EarthTechling, a leading consumer focused green technology news website. I also have an extensive collection of whiskies from both start up distilleries and centuries old operations in Scotland alike, sprinkled with some other odds and ends from around the world, that have provided me with a unique picture of what’s going on with this wonderful spirit.

  • Brian Chang

    Mr. Marchetti brings up an interesting question. In the past few years there appears to be a rebellion against the norm of how a whiskey is produced. There is a lot of experimenting going on which will evolve our whiskey palate. It is a fantastic time to be alive as a whiskey connoisseur and we should encourage their efforts.

    The first pioneer was the person that decided to break away from barely. Then American’s decided they would rather use corn. It is no surprise then that what is abundant to the country is used as an ingredient, and in this case rice. What should really matter is the quality of the product. After that, time and taste will tell which ones will be good enough to be regarded as a “whiskey.”